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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses reporters after testifying before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care, on Capitol Hill in Washington May 15, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY HEALTH) - RTR3PCXY
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki
Following an inspector general's interim report confirming long delays for veterans seeking health care in Phoenix, some congressional Democrats are joining calls for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign:
... Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), locked in a competitive reelection race against Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), became the first Democratic senator to call on Shinseki to go.

Udall’s statement prompted two other vulnerable incumbents, Sens. John Walsh (D-Mont.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), to issue similar statements. [Sens. Jeanne] Shaheen and [Al] Franken followed suit Wednesday night.

A number of House Democrats also called for Shinseki to step down. Shinseki, meanwhile, wrote an op-ed detailing steps he has taken and is taking to address the problems, and asserting that the report's finding are "reprehensible to me and to this department, and we are not waiting to set things straight." Shinseki—or his successor, should he resign—faces a major challenge. As Meteor Blades noted Wednesday:
Since President Obama became president, the VA budget has climbed 50 percent from $100 billion to $150 billion. While that may seem adequate to the austerity mongers,  those eligible for veterans' benefits more than doubled from 400,000 to 918,000 in the same period.
At this point, to the problems at the VA we can add a media spotlight and highly politicized attention from Congress.

8:25 AM PT:

Pelosi defends Shinseki: "It rewards those who have been misleading the secretary to say he should go because they misled him." #VAScandal


Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu May 29, 2014 at 08:21 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  2006 (7+ / 0-)

    Obama would be well served not to let Shinseki become his version of Donald Rumsfeld from the 2006 election cycle.

    Everyone knows he needs to go, and Obama wrapping his arms around him anyway is only going to hurt us in November.

    •  Obama was giving Shinseki a chance to resign (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nespolo, JayBat, auapplemac

      But that slack should only be so long and Shinseki is very, very close to the end of it.

      The deal for any cabinet member is that you have no business staying on past the point at which you have become a liability to the president.  

      Shinseki, at this point, is a huge frickin' liability and he needs to resign this week or be fired on Monday morning next week.

      Please help to fight hunger in the U.S. by making a donation to Feeding America.

      by MJB on Thu May 29, 2014 at 08:54:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd have... (0+ / 0-)

        a hard time respecting president that regarded his cabinet in such a political fashion.

        "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

        by JackND on Thu May 29, 2014 at 12:02:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not a family (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It's a job, and Obama should cut him loose.

        •  I think you would have a harder time stomaching a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Republican majority in the Senate come Election Day.  At least I would.

          We can all agree that there is a big problem at the VA.  Because of that problem, Democrats who are seen as supporting Shinseki have potential problem as well.  

          In a perfect world, a cabinent member's job wouldn't be political, it would be about competence and effectiveness.  But this isn't a perfect world, and Shinseki's appearance of ineffectiveness does have political reprecussions.

          Shinkseki is a good man.  He'll do what's right and resign before the President is forced to ask for his resignation.

          Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

          by cks175 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 03:07:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Shinseki is not the problem (24+ / 0-)

      It's a decade of wars with insufficient funding for Veterans' healthcare, courtesy of Republicans.

      "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

      by MartyM on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:01:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Shinseki is also a problem (5+ / 0-)

        It is not as if he didn't know the condition of the VA when he took over, and how many years have gone by?  It isn't as if he didn't know the numbers and the influx years ago as well.  He has known all of these things.

        Just because he may have known how many boots on the ground it takes to invade Iraq successfully, doesn't mean he is good at anything else.

        He is also the reason why your soldiers for a few years had to wear black wool berets.  They stink and can't hold shape when they get wet in the rain, they eat up time and money to convert to, they are very inefficient pretentious wear but it was what General Shinseki wanted his forces to look like.  How pretentious

        It seems obvious to me that Eric Shinseki is comfortable propping up a bureaucracy with built in inefficiencies.  Like many commanders, it is inevitable and acceptable that some of the grunts die and you don't have many personal feelings about that.  It doesn't disturb your sleep.

      •  Only partly true. (4+ / 0-)

        Shinseki is a good man, but my understanding is that he has large chunks of his management structure that are faking wait time stats in order to maintain their performance bonuses, rather than screaming bloody murder about ballooning wait times to make the problem visible, for the good of veterans, but thereby losing their performance bonuses.

        I don't think Shinseki is directly involved in the fraud in any way. But once he knew about it, he needed to take action immediately. He didn't, so he is not the person to clean up the mess, and he needs to resign (and loudly call for the cleanup in his resignation announcment).

      •  We (Democrats) run 2/3 of the federal govt... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        auapplemac, MJB, AlexDrew, cks175

        ...yet we blame Republicans for insufficient funding for Veterans' healthcare.

        Yeah, that'll play out really well...especially with elderly midterm election know, the ones who actually show up and vote in elections without Obama on the ballot?

        Pointing the finger won't solve this growing scandal (and that's what it is...accept it or don't). Someone has to be held accountable...and Shinseki runs the show in that department. If he stays, he'll anchor us through 2014 and beyond.

        Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

        by Love Me Slender on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:14:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fire him & Cheney at the same time. (0+ / 0-)

          It was Cheney who maimed those men & women, and his party that starved the government of the funds needed to make things run properly.

          Yes, heads must roll - current heads - that's politics.  But in doing so Obama should also find a way to put the blame where it belongs, on the cruel, irresponsible Republican Party of Kristol, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Boehner, Cantor, Norquist, etc.


          •  That could backfire... (0+ / 0-)

            Beltway CW is that the public is losing confidence in the President's ability as a manager/executive.  If he fires/accepts Shinseki's resignation, and at the same time tries to blame the Republicans for it, that will get spun as the President saying "not my fault".

            Better to let Shinseki fall on his sword, and Obama be seen as the "now we're going to roll up our sleeves and fix this problem" guy.  

            Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

            by cks175 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 03:01:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The problem is corruption within the VA and illegal activities like secret waiting lists and very poor oversight and management.

        All the money in the world for the VA wouldn't have stopped this.  We have to get out of the business of finding excuses for the wrong-doings that are going on in our government.  

    •  Bush never acknowledged Rummy's failures (8+ / 0-)

      Everyone working for Dubya kept their jobs because he was completely incapable of comprehending the level of their (and his own) failure.

      Obama has clearly acknowledged the failure here.

      Firing Shinseki is a fine idea if you want retribution. But it might well be the worst possible approach to actually solving the problems at the VA.

  •  Oh, yeah, that'll help. NOT. (11+ / 0-)

    The man is trying to change an institutional culture that's bigger than anything else in the US Government EXCEPT the DoD.

    The evidence of his efforts is that there aren't scandals like this at EVERY SINGLE hospital in the VA. Not so damn long ago, there were.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 08:25:05 AM PDT

    •  He has had all the time in the world (6+ / 0-)

      To do that, and this is where he has ended up.

      Has it occurred to anyone that some military leaders might not be great leaders of anything at all outside the military?

      It isn't as if while they were in the military the people that they led could or even would defy them, if you did...well go to jail.

      I don't think Shinseki knows how to do this job, he hasn't the foggiest notion how to take any of this on.  And the minute it is time to fire someone it is too intimidating taking on the employee union.

    •  You don't know that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      All you know is what we've learned so far.  I don't remember scandals "not so damn long ago" about scandals in EVERY hospital in the VA.  

      The problem is within the leadership and the lack of oversight and management within the VA.  THAT's the problem....and when we have leaders that do not take responsibility for it, then it we'll only see window dressing and a few improvements so that the heat can get off of what's actually causing the problem in the first place.  

      How many vets have died?  Who will be held accountable?  DEATHS...give me a break on all the excuses.

      Yeah...I'm a little upset at this and getting more and more upset at how much the administration and the VA leadership is doing playing the bob-and-weave game and trying to excuse it away and telling us how much they've done and how now that they know about the problem it'll all be so much better.  

      FIRE those involved....prosecute those that violated the law.  END OF STORY.

      •  Phoenix had, I believe, two verified deaths (0+ / 0-)

        this year.

        I am not saying things are not wrong  in various hospitals. I am saying that since Shinseki took over there have been changes for the better.

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 05:38:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  To be fair -- he's not doing everything overnight (5+ / 0-)

    which means the pols  want his head because evidently they all went to Hogwarts and graduated magna cum laude, but have lost their magic since entering Congress (what, there's a Muggle-ization forcefield, or something?).

    What I do hope he'll do is ask for more $$$, 'cause his system's got WAY more new patients -- and more coming, and just as the WW1 survivors were often more traumatized than the War Between the States vets (there is never anything civil about a war; that's why it's called a war) and the WW2 vets were in worse shape, and the Korean vets started coming home after surviving things the WW2 vets didn't have a chance of surviving, and the 'Nam vets (now a large part of the VA's geriatric mission) were often far more torn up than the Korean vets, the Iraq and Afghanistan vets are coming in with more severe (and often more repeated) injuries, and in bigger numbers, than did the previous war's vets...

    It would take H. Norman Schwarzkopf with the ability to fire administrators instantly six or seven years to get all the craptastic habituants cleaned out of the upper echelons at the VA, and he won a land war in Asia in less than a year....meanwhile, the (many, IMO) VA facilities that are doing good work don't make the news, adding arrows to the Gee O Pee anti-ACA/single-payer quiver. Heck, I'm not convinced Patton / Ike / JFK could fix the thing overnight, like the highly-interviewed Congresspeople who are NOT going to admit they voted against more funds and personnel for the VA many times, will want loudly until some other scandal offers them the opportunity to gin up bigger poll pluses.

    Shinseki's not the problem. The problem here is entrenched dishonesty, funded by the "bonus" system. Compounded by political mealymouthed grandstanding conveniently omitting "deficit responsible" votes.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 08:37:55 AM PDT

    •  6 years on the job... (6+ / 0-)

      and his response to the scandal is to set up some independent fact finding commission. They are calling for his head because he seems utterly clueless at what to do to fix the situation. These problems have been known for a while, with howls from veterans complaining about wait times and NOW he's getting around to learning the facts?

      That's horseshit. The facts, while not complete, are compelling enough to know there are some very bad actors who were lining their pockets while keeping veterans from getting appointments and that this isn't new. Yet, did any of these bad actors get fired? Were they reassigned? Or did they keep right on making money off the back of a perverse incentive system?

      How the GOP contributed to all this - and they did - is irrelevant. The man is in charge of the VA and blaming "the system" and "the culture" means no one is held accountable. While accountability is crucial, the real question is if Shinseki is the man to fix it. Does anyone think he's the right guy for the job?

      •  How to fix it? MORE RESOURCES. $$$$$$ (4+ / 0-)

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

        by zenbassoon on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:07:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  His Budget (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Militarytracy, Mr Robert, auapplemac

          His budget has nearly doubled and he still has the same problems that were there on the day he walked in.

          That is not effective leadership.

          I don't think people would be defending him if it weren't for his stance on the Iraq war, which has given him a ton of street cred among the base.

          Then again, as Limbaugh was blustering yesterday the only reason he has the job is because he was against the war and that made him a celebrity among the base, and not because he was in any way qualified to actually lead the VA.

          If he had been there only a year it would be one thing, but he has been there for long enough that it is time for some accountability for the continued failure to properly do his job.

          •  Did you read MB's diary yesterday? (2+ / 0-)

            His budget needs to be quadrupled.

            Do you know how many veterans there are to VA centers?

            Do the math.

            "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

            by zenbassoon on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:29:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why hasn't he gone before congress to fight for (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              money, if that was the main problem?

              Where was the oversight?  That's the problem with some government agencies! Not enough oversight protecting our money and insuring the the clients get the services we're paying for.

              That's what the Rs keep hammering us about. Government is too big to effectively and efficiently do the jobs we assign it to do.

              It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

              by auapplemac on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:37:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's not about oversight. It's about volume (0+ / 0-)

                It's like selling 50,000 seats to a 10,000 seat stadium.

                You need money to build a bigger stadium

                "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

                by zenbassoon on Thu May 29, 2014 at 01:09:24 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, bullshit. You get rid of Shinseki and THEN (2+ / 0-)

            what??  Huh, smart guy?  Does the new person who takes over get to perform some magic and then make the VA whole? The problems the VA is going through have been this way FOR YEARS and it make take more years to fix it the problems.  It's a combination of a couple of different factors that will help these veterans and their families.

            •  Given that the avg. member of Congress' net (0+ / 0-)

              worth is $1 million plus and the avg. VA patient's facing at least $1 million in lifetime care ... let's ask 'em all to pitch in and support the vets. A $5K check apiece wouldn't be much, but at least we'd see who's lying (as usual).

              I see exactly why the Gee O Pee wants Shinseki canned. In the VA hospitals where the care can be gotten to (and to be fair, in far too many there's not enough care for the district population of vets, and travel times plus scheduling aren't wonderful -- but then the same is true in the non-VA healthcare system, too) there's a model for single-payor, working, to be seen.

              They're afraid we all may want the level of care you can get at a good VA facility.

              LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

              by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:55:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  If he stays, we're doomed in 2014...simple as that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              There is a reason senators running tough races are calling for his head. Stay and fight in the trenches with him, if you so desire. But if he remains in charge of that department, his face will be next to every GOP ad running for congress this fall...and we'll get demolished.

              Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

              by Love Me Slender on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:17:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  You call a 50% increase "nearly doubled? (eom) (0+ / 0-)
  •  I would like to point out (3+ / 0-)

    that while the number of veterans eligible for services has doubled in that time frame - that does not mean necessarily that the services the VA has provided has increased at the same rate.

    We will need to keep increasing the budget of the VA for future services, but young veterans simply do not use the VA at the same rate as older veterans - with more chronic, long term conditions - do.

    In that event, this statistic is slightly misleading. Again, this particular scandal - the waiting lists - is not funding issue in that way. It's a funding issue because it appears that some people may be lining their pockets by cooking the wait times.

    Look, I tried to be reasonable...

    by campionrules on Thu May 29, 2014 at 08:40:02 AM PDT

    •  campionrules -- sorta but not really (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the number of young vets with injuries they can't afford to take anywhere else (yep; even in my 20s I thought of the VA as a "hospital of last resort" and I had a Service-Connected disability; but I'm female and a noncombat vet so funding for me and my cohort's at the whim of Congress) is growing every day.

      The VA does some things extremely well and some really poorly, and it's the INDIVIDUAL HOSPITAL COMMANDERS who can make the decision to be operationally outstanding. Some, sadly, continue to decide to appear to be instead -- it's easier, politically.

      LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:01:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, I wasn't trying to dismiss (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1, auapplemac

        younger veterans - just that veterans served by the VA tend to come more from disadvantaged groups, older, poorer, minorities etc.

        Throwing money at the situation won't change anything if the core problem is administrators lining their pockets by hitting their common measures through fraud.

        Look, I tried to be reasonable...

        by campionrules on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:05:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  so make the bonuses go away (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          auapplemac, raspberryberet

          and start fining those damn administrators for NOT taking care of the patients.

          You're right: vets, in general, tend not to be from the "affluenza" class. Most of us used to be over 40. Now we're a minority (again, damn Cheney and all his dishonest, cowardly, oil-greed-based ilk).

          LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

          by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:09:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  why is it that the 1st response to a problem is (7+ / 0-)

    "Fire someone - now!" (or, if it's an international problem, "Bomb someone - now!")

    Investigate - of course
    Fix the problem - even better, and a higher priority

    But fire someone before you know what happened?   No, it shouldn't work that way.  And when we've reacted this way, it turns out to be the wrong thin g to do, more often than not.

    When we really know what happened, we can hold the responsible people accountable - you know, like we did for the lies leading up to thew wars, and the torture, and the recession, and the .....

    Meanwhile, this is just another attack on the President by attacking his staff.  We don't need a witch-hunt - we need to fix what's wrong.

  •  The general is not the problem (6+ / 0-)

    the congress is and always has been.  Some of these lifers that have been in the system for so long, need to go.  Listen to the whistleblowers and you will find the shit.

    •  When you find the shit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      auapplemac, raspberryberet

      They can't fired.  Why?

      They were receiving bonuses for meeting budget, so they secretly denied services...why were they even getting such bonuses though?

      •  I wouldn't scream too loud (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Militarytracy, auapplemac

        that Congress is the only problem.  Until 2010, Democrats controlled both houses of congress for two consecutive terms.  Not mention, the Dems had 60 votes in the Senate for the better part of two years.   This problem started way before the GOP took over the House.

        Let's face it, on economics (and VA funding is economic), the space between the Congressional Dems and Republicans is barely the thickness of a credit card.

        •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert

          This is a beltway problem, nobody wants to pay for the cannon fodder.  And once the cannon fodder understands that it is classified cannon fodder by the leadership of its society and country it usually does the whole beltway a HUGE and kills itself.  

          Just don't put your name on anything.  Keep it all on the down low.  Only make commercials where you are smiling at Vets and embracing them.

      •  Why were bonuses even offered? It's their damn (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        job!  Don't give them incentives to cheat.  Who was the genius behind that idea?

  •  Something needs to change (6+ / 0-)

    And if he needs to go, so be it.

    A 26 year old Iraq war veteran with PTSD was shot and killed by Kansas City police this week after he pointed a weapon at them.  His parents had been trying to get him into the VA hospital and he was on a 30 day wait list.

    As the daughter of a Korean War veteran, wife of a Vietnam vet, and mother of a veteran of the Iraq War, Patricia Sims knows a lot about the V.A. system, and she said Tuesday that the Kansas City hospital is “great compared to a lot of places” in the system. “But they’re slow; they’re overbooked; they put him off and they put him off and now he’s dead.”

    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John F. Kennedy

    by Dem Beans on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:02:58 AM PDT

    •  And how would someone other than Shinseki (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      have been able to prevent that??

      What do you think they could/should do?  How much money would it take?  How much more personnel would it take?   I've got an idea: How about let the person who is already there find out what's going where and address it first.  THEN get his head on a pike.  

      •  Maybe the next person (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        can build extensions onto every VA hospital with the money out of his or her own pockets, and then pay for all the additional staff.

        "Moon landing was real. Evolution exists. Tax cuts lose revenue. The research has shown this a thousand times. Enough already." - Austan Goolsbee

        by anonevent on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:55:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mwm341, Matt Z, raspberryberet

      not a fan of scapegoat politics. If you want to fire someone, prove to me they are the one that ought to be fired.

      Firing someone just because they are the "face" of something is rancid.

      "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

      by JackND on Thu May 29, 2014 at 11:30:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Udall does this so he won't have to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnrhoffman, Pale Jenova, Aquarius40

    call out his colleagues on their horrible actions wrt vets and funding. And so he can triangulate against Obama back home in his campaign for reelection.

    •  This is bad news for Udall (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm not surprised that he is all over this.  Last polls I saw, he was tied or within a point either side of tied.  With the wild drop-off in CO midterm voter turnout, I think he could be the seat that holds or loses the Senate.  Obama will not be popular among that turnout demographic.

      Let's keep in mind that as bi-partisanly scandalous as this is, it's still politically all about getting Obama.  It's a tragedy, really, and a shame one side has to make political points over it.  But, in this case, both sides do it.  IMO, Dems did it to Bush on Katrina and Abu Grhaib.

  •  Ya know, instead of grandstanding, why don't (15+ / 0-)

    they FIX. IT.

    But that won't occur to the GOP or the media. They're too busy with "get Obama"

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:06:44 AM PDT

  •  Rather than resign, why not try to fix it? (10+ / 0-)

    Otherwise, the same problems continue, with a different person at the helm to wring his or her hands.

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:10:12 AM PDT

  •  The general is not the problem (6+ / 0-)

    That the Congress has underfunded the VA for decades is the problem. VA money is NOT part of the Defense Department budget. Every VA clinic and hospital has unfilled positions because there is NO money to fill them. That Democrats would align themselves with Republicans to avoid being associated with President Obama is discouraging, to say the least. Fuck them all.

  •  The VA has been in a downward spiral for years (5+ / 0-)

    My Uncle worked for the VA from his return from WWII until his retirement.  He always said a few years before his retirement how it was in decline.   They didn't want to give benefits to the soldiers and take care of them like they first did.  The right wing wants war but do not want to care those they send.  Republicans would rather overpay contractors who support them than the Vets.  America is twisted in it's logic.  Under Democrats we receive more benefits than under Re publicans.  Time to wake up and decide which way we want to go.  

  •  Why has the number of VA eligible people climbed (0+ / 0-)

    so much in that time?

    The number of people added exceeds the growth for the entire Bush administration, and that includes the bulk of the Iraq fighting.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:16:48 AM PDT

  •  Sebelius (Redux) (6+ / 0-)

    Obama isn't a "heads-will-roll" administrator (unlike, say, Mitt Romney). Firing Shinseki wont make the VA better. Those calling for his firing need to also be proposing someone better.

    Shinseki is going to stay on until the ship is righted. And Obama is going to put his shoulder behind fixing the VA.

    This is going to be the ACA battle all over again. And the outcome is likely to be a better VA than we have ever had.

    •  Yeah...if he stays as long as she did... (3+ / 0-)

      ...i.e. 6 months, we're finished in 2014...and not by a hair, either.

      Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

      by Love Me Slender on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:20:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it will take longer than 6 months to fix the VA (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I guess we're screwed either way.

        I say, fix the problems now. Worry about who gets to keep their jobs later.

        •  And what will the funding be after the GOP... (0+ / 0-)

          ...keeps the House and takes the Senate in Nov? How will we fix the problems then?

          We need to cut our losses with this one. It's not like Benghazi or the IRS. It's shorting and hurting our vets...and if we allow the guy running the department to stay, we hitch our wagons to his sinking ship.

          Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

          by Love Me Slender on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:45:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fixing the VA won't simply involve firing the top (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raspberryberet, sweatyb

            guy. If it's just for the sake of politics and improving the President's poll numbers, history shows that presidential firings are going to have little effect on approval ratings. Fixing the VA will involve shortening down the waiting times, adding more doctors and nurses, more accountability for employees involved in any wrongdoing. Those and more will be meaningful in fixing the VA healthcare system, and it'll take more than 5-6 months. Firing the top guy just because it looks and feels politically good won't solve the problems and Obama's numbers won't likely be changed. Sometimes you have to leave politics out of this.

    •  I don't see Shinseki making it past this weekend.. (0+ / 0-)

      The numbers of Senators and Representatives calling for his resignation only grow, and now the MSM is portraying it as a bipartisan demand.

      Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

      by cks175 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 03:12:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whether Shinseki deserves to go or not, (4+ / 0-)

    he's become a political liability.  All the R's want him out  because... Obama, and more and more D's will join them because they're cowards.  His days are numbered.

    "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

    by Nespolo on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:17:51 AM PDT

    •  This can't be simply a political issue (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Again...firing Gen Shinseki won't solve the fundamental problems that's plagued the VA for years. It'll take time to fixing those problems, beyond this election cycle. And even if Shinseki goes that ain't going to likely improve Obama's numbers; history shows that when a cabinet member is let go the president's approval changes very little as a result. This won't solve the Democrats' midterm problems in November. As long as we still have service members trying to get help from the VA, these problems will keep lingering until REAL reform is done to the agency that'll involve much more than firing Gen Shinseki.

  •  Every one of them needs to look (5+ / 0-)

    in a mirror.  They are more the problem than General Shinseki

    The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion. Molly Ivins

    by MufsMom on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:18:21 AM PDT

  •  I'm really disappointed in Franken jumping on t... (5+ / 0-)

    I'm really disappointed in Franken jumping on this bandwagon. Fix it! Don't start jumping and calling it a failure and calling for heads before even all the facts are known. I still believe there is something fishy about the whole thing. The ACA comes out above expectations and now this "scandal" suddenly comes to light. I smell fish...don't know about the rest of you, but I smell midterm "october surprise".

    •  Franken has no excuse (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      He's in a safe re-election state/campaign.  The others, well, this will not play well in places like the south and CO, where there are a lot of military bases, and returning soldiers in small towns still get parades.

      This could be the big issue that seals the Dems fate in 2014.

      •  Franken has no excuse indeed. Shame on him! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z
      •  This won't seal the Democrats' fate (0+ / 0-)

        Firing someone will do little for Obama's or the Democrats' standing.

      •  If Franken is safe, maybe he's doing it because it (0+ / 0-)

        is the right thing to do?

        Compared to Udall and the other Dems in tough election fights, Franken's really got no skin in the political side of it.

        It will be interesting to know what went on that led to safe Dems like Franken jumping ship on Obama/Shinseki.  Maybe there's some private Democratic polling that's being shared amongst themselves, and they believe that Shinseki's become a really big liability.

        Some commenters have pointed out that firing a cabinent secrectary won't help Obama/Dem poll numbers.  But what I see is that after jettisoning Shinseki, it gives the White House and the Democrats the ability to focus on the repair and fixing the problem, rather than all the howling about the problem itself.

        Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

        by cks175 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 03:19:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If Shinsecki couldn't fix the problems in 6 years, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      John in Cleveland, Matt Mulligan

      what makes you think he can do it now?

      It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

      by auapplemac on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:51:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Franken has his reasons. I just wish he would tell (0+ / 0-)

      us what they are.

      Be involved!

      by ecthompson on Thu May 29, 2014 at 12:05:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is an actual scandal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think that Franken recognizes that this is bad, and that Shinseki isn't the person to fix it.  I'm not sure why people are circling the wagons on this one.

  •  Congressmen calling for Shinseki's head (9+ / 0-)

       are looking for a scapegoat to keep the light from being shined where it belongs: on them.

  •  The IG report said "systemic", not just Phoenix (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, Mr Robert, auapplemac

    The report found nationwide, system problems.

    NPR - Report Finds Systemic Problems With VA Wait Lists

    A systemic problem nationwide - that's how the Inspector General for Veterans Affairs has described the problem of falsified wait times at VA medical centers. At one facility in Phoenix, veterans waited on average 115 days for an appointment.
  •  Election fodder for Repubs (4+ / 0-)

    I.e., get Shinseki fired and ensure that nothing significant is resolved with the VA.  Claim credit all over the media for superficial improvements while stonewalling the appointment of a new secretary.

    I'm also really disappointed that Al Franken is going along with this.

  •  curious that mainly red states are the problem.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:29:17 AM PDT

  •  Five... (5+ / 0-)

    Democratic senators participating in a GOP political stunt means five fewer campaigns I have to waste any money on.

    Notice how when the VA issue came to a head and the FOX set had a new chewtoy, the "urgent" Benghazi matter fell (once again) right back to near oblivion?

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:31:00 AM PDT

    •  JackND: YES, and MORE LIKE THIS (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if they don't support our President and our policies, let's not hand them another dime.
      Or another vote.

      LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:05:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Shame on them! I am writing letters as we speak. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      We do not need our own helping them.

    •  Sad to say,... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Love Me Slender, auapplemac, Matt Z

      but if I were the GOP, it would be all VA, all the time right now.  This issue has far more resonance and potential to damage Obama (and by extension midterm Dems) than Benghazi.  Now that Dems are piling on, it's a no brainer.

      •  It already is...on TV, radio, the web... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        auapplemac, Matt Z


        They see a winning issue...and quite frankly, if the party roles were reversed, we'd be hammering them on this too.

        The only way out of this mess is to fire (not have him resign, FIRE) Shinseki...then have the president address the nation and outline his remedies. That will not only spur action, but it takes the wind out of the GOP's sails and puts THEM on the defensive i.e. they pony up the dough or THEY take the blame.

        Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

        by Love Me Slender on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:49:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Again firing the top guy won't do shit (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Matt Z, raspberryberet

          to fix the VA. If you care about politics on this issue this will very unlikely improve Obama's numbers or the Democrats' electoral problems in the midterms. Yeah, it feels good to firing the top guy who's making the headlines right now...but will it improve the VA's problems or the president's and Dem's numbers? Very, very unlikely.

    •  It's also a political stunt to defend someone... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...we're obviously only defending because our party put him there, rather than out of any real belief that he's doing to fine job.

      It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

      by Rich in PA on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:36:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Eric Shinseki is not the problem (10+ / 0-)

    Look, we can fire general Shinseki if we want to. He's not the problem. The problem is Congress. Congress has treated the VA as if we could treat the growing number of veterans with a shrinking number of dollars.

    In order to take care of more veterans and to address a huge modernization upgrade, the VA needs money. The VA needs resources. The VA needs more doctors, nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals.

    I'm a trauma surgeon. I've worked at a VA.

    My two cents

    Be involved!

    by ecthompson on Thu May 29, 2014 at 09:40:05 AM PDT

    •  Great to hear (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ekgrulez1, raspberryberet

      from someone who knows the system.

      My son has PTSD and has received good care from VA sites in Chicago and Iowa City.

      To me, getting into the system is one of the biggest issues, as the care seems pretty good.

      My dad is a WWII vet who still gets some care at the VA...and he is satisfied.

      Check the Iraq-Afghan Vets organization who rate pols on how they vote for vets benefits...GOPers are all at the bottom, with dems at the top.

      It is rich hearing those same GOPers scream about this...naked political opportunism.

      As Rachel Maddow said last nite, the VA has committed to contacting everyone on those lists by the end of next week.
      Shinsheki is trying to address this colossal issue as quickly as humanly possible.

      •  100% correct (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mwm341, raspberryberet

        One of the major hurdles is getting into the VA. Once again, the VA system was designed to be hard to get into. it is designed to be slow but if you have a disease that the VA is good at taking care of you are golden. PTSD in a major city. That's good. The VA will give your son world class care.

        PTSD in a small city that would be bad.

        We need more doctors and nurses in order to help fix the problem.

        Thanks for your comments.

        Be involved!

        by ecthompson on Thu May 29, 2014 at 12:10:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The VA needs *better* (5+ / 0-)

    local administrators (e.g. hospital commanders). There's a really excellent hospital in Big Spring; the hospital in Amarillo, by contrast, is known to be unsafe for female veterans.

    More doctors, fewer MBAs.
    More nurses, fewer lawyers.
    More therapists, fewer lobbyists.

    Put the money where the work gets done, not where the words get spun.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:06:58 AM PDT

  •  Shinseki should not resign if he (4+ / 0-)

    feels that he can fix the problems.  If he can't do his job effectively then he should resign.  Obama took the same approach with Sebelius and it worked out with respect to the ACA.

    He has done a number of good things since coming to the VA and I think the guy has been overwhelmed by what he inherited: a technologically and bureaucratically archaic government department saddled by a very high patient load due to Bush's 2 wars.  We also have to take into account that the types of injuries that these soldiers have require much more active longer-term care and the aging of the veteran population which is also testing the limits of the system.  I don't think anyone could be expected to right the ship in such a short period of time.  

    Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit

    by khyber900 on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:35:32 AM PDT

  •  I think the culture of dishonesty is his fault. (3+ / 0-)

    You can complain all you want about resources, but when your employees feel empowered, if that's the right word, to make shit up then as the boss you have to be accountable.  

    And my god, they have a $150B budget to care for 918,000 people?  You do the math.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Thu May 29, 2014 at 10:36:04 AM PDT

    •  Add to that the cost of facility space, lights,... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Add to that the cost of facility space, lights, power, heating and cooling, janitor services, maintenance personnel, operating staff, employee pay and benefits, office supplies, medical equipment and medicine, insurance, travel costs, CEU's, contract employees, yard workers, building upgrades, security personnel, and all the little cash eating misc expenses and the budgets not enough to blow your nose with. I worked in an office with 20 people, just to have our trash emptied daily and the floor vacuumed once a month cost $1,700.00. An office chair that won't fall apart in 1 year costs $1,000.00. American prices are prohibitive and I'll bet they are forced to utilize preselected contractors who don't give them a decent rate. Seems like the math should probably check out...

  •  My spouse is a disabled vet..... (5+ / 0-)

    and retired Vet Center Team Leader.  He supports Shinseki, and considers him to have made a big difference in the improvements in the VA system.  He says this as a user of our VA and as a former employee.  I know these folks are joining in because of political expediency, but getting rid of Shinseki is a mistake in my judgment.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Thu May 29, 2014 at 12:00:33 PM PDT

    •  And firing Shinseki won't simply fix the current (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, raspberryberet

      problems. That's going to come from Congress, the VA top management itself. And it's going to happen beyond this election cycle. As one of the commentators above has mentioned if Shinseki can effectively address these problems there shouldn't be a reason for him to go; if that happens this story will likely fade in the headlines and Democrats will stop panicking.  

  •  Fix it and/or resign (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mwm341, raspberryberet

    It will not be easy...but need to ask the questions: what lead to the "waiting list" fiasco and why is treatment being delayed? Not enough staff/facilities? Overwhelmed facilities? Not enough $$$ to treat patients? Incompetent administrators ? Antiquated records systems? (ALL of the above?)

    Need a "triage" plan to take care of the immediate medical needs issues...and secondary plans to deal with the bureaucracy/administration issues..i.e. hearings, investigations. Our veterans deserve better. A big thank-you to the medical personnel who serve/have served our vets.

  •  WHO SHOULD RESIGN (0+ / 0-)

    If Secretary  Shinseki should resign, should not all the Congress representatives who voted against fully funding the VA also resign.  My experience has always been; if you want something to secede, you fund it to secede.   If you wish something to fail, you do not fully fund the activity, but you do not eliminate it either.  You keep it going on a 'shoe string'!   The VA and Benghazi are both examples of how this kills people.  Citizens must wale up!  They must remove their heads from the holes in which they are stuck, and look around.   WE must reject the Cruel Party and its cruel politics.

  •  allow him a chance 2 fix the/problems&fund the VA! (0+ / 0-)

    decent wages don't eliminate jobs. Republicans eliminate jobs; and workers, and prospects, and then excuse it all and call for more austerity. there is no end to their ignorant, arrogant avarice. only political dinosaurs support their treachery.

    by renzo capetti on Thu May 29, 2014 at 01:57:41 PM PDT

  •  Anyone ever try to accomplish something in a bu... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Anyone ever try to accomplish something in a bureaucratic system on a show string budget? As a government agency staffing is crucial and medical staffing more so. Understaffed under paid and under appreciated usually leads to poor performance. No surprise the VA is failing, it's not his fault, it's Americas fault. But let's just blame him cause of course he knows what all the VA hospitals are doing, how could he not after reading false reports from management?

    Why the press for his resignation with Christie still in office?

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